Museum Studies MSc

Museum Studies

The Masters in Museum Studies will help you develop the knowledge, understanding and skills required of today’s versatile museum professional. It has been designed in conjunction with employers to meet their needs for well-rounded museum professionals trained in the latest theoretical and practical approaches.

Key facts

Why this programme

  • Glasgow’s civic and university collections are the richest and most diverse outside of London and are of international standing.
  • Taught alongside staff from Glasgow Museums and the University's own museum and art gallery, The Hunterian, the degree programme provides a combination of academic and practitioner input.
  • If you want to develop a career in the cultural heritage sector, this programme has been developed for you.
  • Four versions of the degree allow you follow standard or specialist strands.
  • There are great opportunities for you to take practice based courses or work placements at the museums and galleries that partner the programme.
  • We welcome applicants from across the arts and sciences, current professionals or career changers, from the UK or abroad.

Programme structure

Four different strands of the MSc Museum Studies are offered.

The Theory and Practice strand is our standard museum studies programme where the museum itself is the primary object of study.

Three specialist strands: History of Collecting and Collections; Artefact and Material Culture; and Dress and Textile Histories) enable you to combine courses in Museum Studies with specialist courses from masters programmes provided by Archaeology and History of Art.

Each strand will give you a different mix of optional courses.

Core courses

  • Introduction to Museology
  • Research and Professional Skills

Optional courses

  • Four courses from your chosen strand

To finish the programme, you choose between

  • Exhibition research and development placement
  • Dissertation on a specialist topic of your choice


Theory and practice

This strand introduces you to the theoretical, contextual, ethical and practical issues involved in curating, engaging, interpreting, developing and managing museum resources. It develops your understanding and skills in contemporary museum issues and exposes you to the many and varied challenges and opportunities facing museums today.

History of collecting and collections

This strand covers a broad range of disciplines and areas of knowledge relating to subjects and periods in the history of collecting and collections. You will be introduced to subjects that will help develop your understanding of issues of connoisseurship and taste, the impact of travel, the politics of display and patterns of collecting and presentation.

Artefact and material culture

This strand is designed to provide a broad grounding in the fields of artefact and material culture studies. It prepares you at both a theoretical and practical level in the field of specialist artefactual analysis as well as the demands of the museum sector with regard to material culture.

Dress and textile histories

In this strand you will be introduced to subjects that will help you develop your knowledge and understanding in the field of dress and textile histories. You will focus on the curation, interpretation and preservation of dress and textiles in museums, galleries, archives and historic interiors, within both a practical and research environment.

Core and optional courses

All students take two 20 credit programme core courses in Museology and Research and Professional Skills. You also take four 20 credit courses from your strand (a combination of strand core and optional courses) and one 60 credit research project.

Core Courses - All Strands

Introduction to Museology
Semester 1

This course introduces students to different approaches to, and critical reflections on, museums. This course is taught intesively over the first five weeks of first semester in order to give students a thorough grounding in their studies as soon as possible.

  • History of the Museum
  • Museum Politics
  • Museum Architecture
  • Museum Audiences
  • Collections Management
  • Museum Ethics and Legal Frameworks
  • Museum Education
  • Museum Conservation
  • Museological Developments

Students are assessed by an essay and seminar critique.

Research and Professional Skills

Semester 1

This course provides students with an opportunity to develop a range of subject, transferable and intellectual skills though a series of short lectures, seminars and practical sessions. This course is taught over 11 weeks of first semster.

  • Objects as sources of Information
  • Museum Accessibility
  • Object Handling and Storage
  • Presentation Skills
  • Cultural Awareness
  • Job Applications and CV Writing
  • Effective Reading and Writing
  • Grant Applications and Research Proposals

Students are assessed by a portfolio of work built up from the weekly topics.

Optional Courses - All Strands

Work Placement

Valuable work experience in a museum, gallery or other cultural institution is provided through the Work Placement in second semester. We have developed close links with a number of institutions, giving students the chance to engage in a project-based work placement, where they can explore a possible future career, while meeting professional practitioners and developing skills and experience. A work placement might also provide the opportunity to develop a research subject for a dissertation.

A project is drawn up between the host institution, the student and the course convenor. Projects may involve archival, curatorial or related work. Considerable emphasis is placed on practical skills.

Hunterian Exhibition Course

Second semester optional course taught by staff from The Hunterian.

  • Induction
  • Exhibition Research and Concept Development
  • Collections Care 1
  • Collections Care 2
  • Design and Interpretation
  • Education and Public Programming
  • Reaching our Audience
  • Budgeting and Fundraising
  • Exhibition Merchandise
  • Evaluation Methodology

Assessment: Work Diary and Porfolio

2D Digitisation

Second semester optional course

  • Introduction
  • Resource Selection Strategies
  • Digitisation Chain and Document Properties
  • Digitising Textual Sources
  • Image Quality
  • Image Processing
  • Metadata
  • Photography
  • Selecting Equipment
  • Project Briefing

Assessment: 100% Project

Theory and Practice Strand Courses

Museum Issues

First Semester core course for Theory and Practice.

  • Economic and Social Context
  • Funding and Income Generation
  • Museum Ethics Guidelines
  • Managing Volunteers
  • Conservation v Restoration
  • Managing and Caring for Collections
  • Stakeholder and Audience Development
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Museum Accreditation and Recognition
  • Audience Development

Assessment: Essay 70%, report or review 30%


Second Semester core course for Theory and Practice.

  • Introduction to Phenomenology 1
  • Introduction to Phenomenology 2
  • World
  • Time and Memory
  • Space and Embodiment
  • Subjectivity
  • Phenomenological Aesthetics
  • Culture, Science and the Lifeworld
  • Intersubjectivity
  • Transcending Phenomenology

Assessment: Essay 1 40% Essay 2 60%

Heritage and Cultural Informatics

Second Semester core course for Theory and Practice.

  • What is the Cultural Heritage Sector?
  • Using metadata standards
  • ICT in heritage organisations
  • ICT in archives
  • Site visit – Digital Design Studio
  • ICT in Libraries
  • Digital Preservation
  • ICT in Museums
  • Web 2.0
  • Users and education, fun and curriculum
  • New media, new networking: games and gaming technology

Assessment: Essay 60% Book Review 40%

Museum Practice

Second Semester optional course taught by Glasgow Museums at the Glasgow Museusm Resource Centre.

  • What is a Museum Service
  • Applied Object Research
  • The Kelvingrove Redisplay
  • Curatorial Practice
  • Collections Navigator & Museums Online
  • The Riverside Museum
  • Community Engagement
  • Museum Learning
  • Conservation in Practice
  • Student Presentations
  • Getting a job in a museum

Assessment: Report 60% Presentation 40%

Artefact and Material Cultures Strand Courses

Material Culture in Context

Introduces current theoretical and methodological perspectives in Material Culture studies. Key themes include changing perspectives on the meaning of objects in archaeological thought, the presentation and management of cultural objects and understanding modern material culture.

The Process of Artefact Studies

Looks at the treatment, analysis and interpretation of objects from archaeological recovery in the field through specialist examination and conservation to final museum display and long-term curation.

Critical Themes in the Treatment and Display of Objects

A series of museum visits and gallery and exhibition fieldtrips during which you consider the presentation of an array of different material and develop your analysis through a semester-long advanced project.

Artefact and Material Culture Optional Courses (subject to availability)

  • Lithic Analysis
  • Working with pottery
  • Science-based Analysis of archaeological materials
  • Early Medieval artefacts
  • Viking and Late Norse Artefacts (AD 750-1350)

History of Collecting and Collections Strand Courses

Cultures of Collecting

  • William Hunter and William Burrell: two Glasgow collections
  • Collecting insects in the 18th century – the role of collections in scientific progress
  • The birth of the museum
  • The politics of fashion
  • Virtuoso culture and the activities of the Royal Society
  • The collections of the Dukes of Hamilton
  • The art gallery and museum in the 20th century
  • The politics of collecting and display in early 20th century Germany
  • Collecting, documenting and preserving digital art
  • Conservation in public museums in the 19th and 20th centuries

Assessment: essay (3-4,000 words) 90%; oral presentation 10%

Mapping Contemporary Art in Scotland

This semester one course establishes an overview of the collections of contemporary art currently held in public trust or made publicly accessible in Scotland, underpinned with a critical consideration of the formation of those contemporary holdings – be they public or private or national, civic or independent – as comparative with wider UK and international examples. The course will also include a number of case-study sessions, with contributions from curators who work with a range of collections, focusing on how they develop their curating practice around contemporary art.

Glasgow: Collecting and Curating Contemporary Art  1990 onwards

This semester two course provides a focused engagement with the collecting policy for contemporary art at Glasgow Museums and the strategies for its display, storage and dissemination, comparative to UK and international peers such as Berlin and Barcelona. Commencing with a critical consideration and contextualisation of contemporary collecting in Glasgow from 1990 onwards, the course will specifically focus on GoMA’s participation in the recent Art Fund International initiative through a close consideration of specific case-study acquisitions.

Dress and Textile History Strand Courses

Framing Dress and Textile Histories

This course looks at different methodologies for studying dress and textile histories.

  • History of the study of dress and textile histories
  • Material Culture
  • Semiotics
  • Art History
  • Consumption
  • Body
  • Gender
  • Social Anthropology
  • Technology

Assessment: Object-based Essay 90%, Presentation 10%

Making Dress and Textile Histories

This course looks a professional skills associated with working with dress and textile collections

  • History of collecting dress and textiles
  • Research
  • Collections management
  • Handling and packing
  • Project management
  • Display
  • Interpretation
  • Costume mounting

Assessment: Exhibition or Research Proposal and Plan 90%, Presentation 10%

Eighteenth-Century Costume

  • Introduction to the eighteenth century
  • Cut and construction of women’s wear
  • Textile industry
  • Gender
  • Informal and court dress
  • Cut and construction of men’s wear
  • Dress and Identity
  • Consumption

Assessment: Essay 90%, Presentation 10%

What our students say

"Thank you so much for your instruction, guidance, encouragement and for your references. I really think this programme you are building with The Hunterian and Glasgow Museums is going to get more and more extraordinary." Siobhan

"Thank you for everything!" Katie

"Just so you know, I have been using tons of what I learned already. Mixing with the sector, speaking to culture ministers, Glasgow Life about innovation, attending a Museum Camp in Birmingham and I've been invited to explore options for public engagement with museums etc. Proof that the course leads to MANY exciting opportunities to impact and influence museums and the cultural sector outside of simply working for a museum. Thanks for your guidance and support last year. It was tough but it has helped me get where I am today - happy in a new career." Suzanne

Industry links and employability

Work experience opportunities form an important part of the degree programme and we provide these in a number of ways.

As part of your degree

As part of your degree you can take an optional Work Placement course that provides valuable work experience in a museum, gallery or other cultural institution. We have close links with a number of institutions, giving students the chance to engage in a project-based work placement, where they can explore a possible future career, while meeting professional practitioners and developing skills and experience.

Students can also gain insight into the world of museum work through the Museum Practice course (Theory and Practice strand) or The Hunterian Exhibition course (all strands). Museum Practice is taught by staff from Glasgow Museums in the renowned Glasgow Museums Resource Centre. On this course students get to hear first hand accounts of museum work and experience it themselves through project work that contributes to an ongoing Glasgow Museums activity. In The Hunterian Exhibition course students are exposed to the range of museum work through the perspective of exhibition development. As well as being taught by staff from The Hunterian, students undertake activities based in the museum.

As an alternative to a dissertation students can also take the option of The Hunterian Exhbition Research and Development placement (not in conjunction with The Hunterian Exhibition course). This provides students with exhibition research and development placements in museums, galleries and other cultural institutions to work on an aspect of ongoing exhibition development over the summer months. This provides students with:

  • experience that reflects the type of exhibition research and development they may encounter in the work place
  • opportunity for a substantial piece of independent research work
  • experience of working to a defined project brief and schedule
  • extended period working with cultural heritage staff


As well as the work experience opportunites within the course we provide a range of other means to gain valuable work experience. The Hunterian runs its MUSE (Museum University Student Educators) programme that recruits volunteers to provide guided tours to visitors. Both The Hunterian and Glasgow Museums also have active volunteer programmes and we provide a range of other volunteer work experience opportunities from musems and galleries across the west of Scotland througout the year.

Graduate Internships

Each year Glasgow Museums provides three or four internships exclusively for graduates of our Museum Studies degree. These internships are three to six months, full or part-time, to help students bridge the gap between qualification and the world of work by building up a sustained body of work experience in a leading musem organisation.

Entry requirements

for entry in 2016

Entry requirements for postgraduate taught programmes are a 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent qualification (for example, GPA 3.0 or above) in a relevant subject unless otherwise specified.

English language requirements

For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training):

  • overall score 6.5
  • no sub-test less than 6.5
  • or equivalent scores in another recognised qualification (see below)

Common equivalent English language qualifications

All stated English tests are acceptable for admission for both home/EU and international students for this programme:

  • ibTOEFL: 92; no sub-test less than 22 with Speaking no less than 23
  • CAE (Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 176
  • CPE (Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 176
  • PTE Academic (Person Test of English, Academic test): 64; minimum 62 in writing
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English: ISEII at Distinction with Distinction in all sub-tests

For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use these tests to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level programmes. The University is also able to accept an IELTS test (Academic module) from any of the 1000 IELTS test centres from around the world and we do not require a specific UKVI IELTS test for degree level programmes. We therefore still accept any of the English tests listed for admission to this programme.

Pre-sessional courses

The University of Glasgow accepts evidence of the required language level from the English for Academic Study Unit Pre-sessional courses. We also consider other BALEAP accredited pre-sessional courses:


What do I do if...

my language qualifications are below the requirements?

The University's English for Academic Study Unit offers a range of Pre-Sessional Courses to bring you up to entry level. The course is accredited by BALEAP, the UK professional association for academic English teaching; see Links.

my language qualifications are not listed here?

Please contact the Recruitment and International Office:


For further information about English language requirements, please contact the Recruitment and International Office:

Fees and funding

Tuition fees for 2016-17


Home and EU
Full time fee£6950
Part time 20 credits£772
Full time fee£15250


The University requires a deposit of £500 to be paid by applicants in receipt of an offer to this programme.

Fees are subject to change and for guidance only

Funding opportunities

Career prospects

Career opportunities exist in a variety of roles within the cultural heritage sector; these include museums and galleries as well as historic houses, heritage sites and consultancy. Roles range from front of house, education and outreach to collections management, curation, marketing and management.

How to apply

We ask that you apply online for a postgraduate taught degree. Our system allows you to fill out the standard application form online and submit this to the University within 42 days of starting your application.

You need to read the guide to applying online before starting your application. It will ensure you are ready to proceed, as well as answer many common questions about the process.

Guide to applying online

Do I have to apply online for a postgraduate taught degree?

Yes. To apply for a postgraduate taught degree you must apply online. We are unable to accept your application by any other means than online.

Do I need to complete and submit the application in a single session?

No. You have 42 days to submit your application once you begin the process. You may save and return to your application as many times as you wish to update information, complete sections or upload additional documents such as your final transcript or your language test.

What documents do I need to provide to make an application?

As well as completing your online application fully, it is essential that you submit the following documents:

  • A copy (or copies) of your official degree certificate(s) (if you have already completed your degree)
  • A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained
  • Official English translations of the certificate(s) and transcript(s)
  • Two supporting reference letters on headed paper
  • Evidence of your English Language ability (if your first language is not English)
  • Any additional documents required for this programme (see Entry requirements for this programme)
  • A copy of the photo page of your passport (Non-EU students only)

If you do not have all of these documents at the time of submitting your application then it is still possible to make an application and provide any further documents at a later date, as long as you include a full current transcript (and an English translation if required) with your application. See the ‘Your References, Transcripts and English Qualification’ sections of our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Do my supporting documents need to be submitted online?

Yes, where possible, please upload the supporting documents with your application.

How do I provide my references?

You must either upload the required references to your online application or ask your referees to send the references to the University as we do not contact referees directly. There is two main ways that you can provide references: you can either upload references on headed paper when you are making an application using the Online Application (or through Applicant Self-Service after you have submitted your application) or you can ask your referee to email the reference directly to See the 'Your References, Transcripts and English Qualifications' section of the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

What if I am unable to submit all of my supporting documents online?

If you cannot upload an electronic copy of a document and need to send it in by post, please attach a cover sheet to it that includes your name, the programme you are applying for, and your application reference number.

You may send them to:

Recruitment & International Office
71 Southpark Avenue
G12 8QQ
Fax: +44 141 330 4045

Can I email my supporting documents?

No. We cannot accept email submissions of your supporting documents.

What entry requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

You should check that you have met (or are likely to have met prior to the start of the programme) the individual entry requirements for the degree programme you are applying for. This information can be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab on each individual programme page, such as the one you are viewing now.

What English Language requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

If you are an international student, you should also check that you have met the English Language requirements specific to the programme you are applying for. These can also be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab for each specific programme.

Further Information

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions for more information on applying to a postgraduate taught programme.

Guidance notes for using the online application

These notes are intended to help you complete the online application form accurately, they are also available within the help section of the online application form. If you experience any difficulties accessing the online application then you should visit the Application Troubleshooting/FAQs page.

  • Name and Date of birth: must appear exactly as they do on your passport. Please take time to check the spelling and lay-out.
  • Contact Details: Correspondence address. All contact relevant to your application will be sent to this address including the offer letter(s). If your address changes, please contact us as soon as possible.
  • Choice of course: Please select carefully the course you want to study. As your application will be sent to the admissions committee for each course you select it is important to consider at this stage why you are interested in the course and that it is reflected in your application.
  • Proposed date of entry: Please state your preferred start date including the month and the year. Taught masters degrees tend to begin in September. Research degrees may start in any month.
  • Education and Qualifications: Please complete this section as fully as possible indicating any relevant Higher Education qualifications starting with the most recent. Complete the name of the Institution (s) as it appears on the degree certificate or transcript.
  • English Language Proficiency: Please state the date of any English language test taken (or to be taken) and the award date (or expected award date if known).
  • Employment and Experience: Please complete this section as fully as possible with all employments relevant to your course. Additional details may be attached in your personal statement/proposal where appropriate.
  • References: Please provide the names and contact details of two academic references. Where applicable one of these references may be from your current employer. References should be completed on letter headed paper and uploaded on to your application.

Application deadlines

  • All applications: 22 July 2016

Classes start September 2016 and you may be expected to attend induction sessions the week before.

Apply now